Murphy sets new century record

SUPER-CONFIDENT Shaun Murphy was in record-breaking form at the Welsh Open yesterday.

Ten days after returning to the winner’s circle by capturing the Malta Cup title, Murphy remained on top form to whitewash Stoke’s Jamie Cope 5-0 for a place in the last 16.

In the process the 2005 world champion became the first player in the history of world ranking tournament snooker to compile four consecutive centuries in a best-of-nine-frames contest.

“I really enjoyed that. I didn’t do anything complicated. I just did my job and did it well,” said Murphy, who signalled his intent with a 135 clearance in the opening frame.

“I went to Malta knowing that I was playing really well in practice but sorely lacking in confidence. That’s not an issue now, though.

“The last thing I wanted was to come here and fall flat on my face so I couldn’t be happier with the result and the way I achieved it.”

Cope, outscored 556-32 in a 72-minute rout described his opponent’s snooker as “fantastic.”

“That’s the best anyone has ever played against me. Shaun played brilliantly and everything fell perfectly for him. He was flawless. It was good to watch.”

Murphy advances to play Jamie Burnett or Mark Williams, the only Welshman left in his home event.

Peter Ebdon’s hopes of finishing a season as world number one for the first time were dealt a severe blow when the UK champion collapsed to a 5-4 defeat, from 4-1 up, against Dave Harold.

The turning point arrived in the sixth frame when Harold sank a do-or-die, slowly rolled red along the top cushion to embark on a 41 clearance with which he stole it on the black.

For Harold, who completed his unlikely recovery by firing in a long yellow to leave provisional world number four Ebdon requiring snookers in the 38-minute decider, it was history repeating itself.

At the same stage of the 2005 Irish Masters, Harold rallied from three down with four to play to squeeze past Ebdon by the same 5-4 score.

“Obviously that must have been on Peter’s mind, because you don’t forget defeats like that in a hurry,” said Harold.

Three time winner Stephen Hendry also progressed to the last 16 with a 5-2 victory over teenage prospect Ben Woollaston – who was making his television debut.

Hendry, who closed out the contest with a 128 break, goes forward to play Grand Prix champion Neil Robertson.

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